WASHINGTON (Jul. 2)
Secretary of State Dean Rusk today told the House Immigration Subcommittee that the archaic and racist immigration laws were, in effect, official U. S. discrimination against more than half the world’s population.
Mr. Rusk urged Congress to liberalize the laws, stating that they were “Indefensible from a foreign policy point of view.” He called for enactment of the Administration’s bill to eliminate the national origins quota system. The bill would end the ethnic bias now practiced, but would not permit any great increase in the overall number of immigrants.
Chairman Michael Feighan of the Subcommittee, Ohio Democrat, concerned President Johnson’s request for liberalized immigration statutes, charging that the bill would amount to “usurpation” of Congressional authority by the Executive Branch. Jewish organizations are on record as demanding the liberalization of the existing immigration laws.
Secretary Rusk said that “we in the United States have learned to judge our fellow Americans on the basis of their ability, industry, intelligence, integrity and all the other factors which truly determine a man’s value to society. We do not reflect this judgment of our fellow citizens when we hold to immigration laws which classify men according to national and geographic origins.”
The quota system, established in the 1920′s and perpetuated by the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act, assigns the largest quotas to countries in Northern and Western Europe. The Administration bill would eliminate this system gradually, by reducing all established quotas by 20 percent annually for five years. Reductions would go into a worldwide “Pool” from which all immigration would be allocated by the fifth year.
Rep. John Dingell, Michigan Democrat, also denounced the quota system. He said “it is so unrealistic that two thirds of persons who do enter this country come in under special patch up laws which the Congress has passed.”